In hype nation, everyone goes fast and breaks things

Dalton Delan
4 min readJul 21, 2023

We live in hype nation. The nation of the now. There have always been headlines. There has always been advertising. But there were core values. Cultural mainstays. Not anymore.

In a social media world, you’re either viral or nonexistent. And virality is nearly instantaneous. Billie Eilish can whisper into her phone in her bedroom, and the next thing you know she is a star. Charli and Dixie D’Amelio rake in nearly $30 million annually by striking poses, dancing, singing, hawking lifestyle stuff, you name it, on TikTok. Goodbye Connecticut, hello LA. Why not? Who needs winters? They took a fast train to hype city. All aboard! This train is bound for glory.

The internet’s signal travels at hyper speed. People assumed Jon Stewart was an overnight sensation on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central because critics started hyping it. They overlooked the years it flew under the radar. I swam in those same cable TV waters. Each channel struggled for years to gain traction with viewers. Impatient owners traded them like baseball cards. They’re all still around, but I’m not. You can take those Wall Street demands and do you-know-what with them. Today, the impatience is lightning speed. Chris Licht got 13 months to achieve a turnaround at CNN. His mergers and acquisitions boss, a hypester to the max, was so hurried to strike gold that he never bothered with a proper search — any search — before hiring Licht.

These are instant gratification times. If she weren’t afraid that her venture capitalists would lose patience, would Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes have taken the shortcuts she did? I doubt it. Now she’s doing 11 years’ hard time — long enough to repent at leisure. Elon Musk had fast cars and faster rockets on the brain when he took over Twitter, bullish to fast-track change. He fired most of the place in short weeks. Infrastructure? We don’t need no stinking infrastructure. Then, when he went live with Ron DeSantis’ big announce, the tech support was gone and it went kaboom. Nothing brings down a media rocket like dead air.

Candidate DeSantis is all hype and stunts. Spend millions on migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard. Pull Mickey Mouse’s tail. Mouth off about the regional dispute in Ukraine. Walk back that one quick as you can say “Cheese!” We have no patience with Kamala Harris. What could she have done? We forget that vice presidents don’t really do anything. Pence had one moment on Jan. 6, 2021, in four inhibited years. Now he has to ride that pony in the primary ring.

Recently, we drove through farm country in upstate New York by the Finger Lakes. As we powered by, we passed Mennonites in horse-drawn carriages and on bicycles. Their travel was timed to agrarian cycles. Slow and sure. They didn’t appear to suffer from hype or ventilation in their ankle-length dresses, bonnets, suspenders. I envied their tight-knit community and abiding faith. It isn’t for everybody, but there is something to be said for carrying on a tradition we would have recognized 100 years ago or more.

Even with nonprofits working for positive affect via social media, boards are impatient with changing single-digit hearts and minds. The older among them must have grown up listening to Jim Morrison: “We want the world and we want it now!” I heard that song, too. I think it’s part of what killed him and the 1960s. The ’50s were boring. Rock music was propulsive, immediate, demanding fast response. It left behind blues, folk, jazz, country, all its antecedents. They didn’t get to the point quickly enough. It was ahead of its time. On the internet, we’ve all picked up the beat.

We have no sense of history. That’s a slow train. We’re living in the now. In hype nation, don’t even think of going home again. It doesn’t exist. Yet the act of remembering is in the present tense. It’s just different. It doesn’t need The New York Times trumpeting it every week. The Times hyped “Succession” so often you’d have thought it was the Super Bowl. The series finale delivered fewer than 3 million live viewers. That’s a good night on public TV. You don’t see that hyped in the Times. Like whoa, you gotta see the end-of-the-week chat on the “NewsHour!”

The problem with hype is it erases the bar between real news and fluff. When everything is hyped, what is meaningful? Is it all flavor-of-the-moment? I’m OK with our town diner. You can’t beat the chicken parm, even if the Times doesn’t write it up. It never disappoints. It’s blissfully uncool. I’ll take Bogie over Brad. You say you want a revolution. They slow-cook for years. Your internet speed is shaky, taking whole seconds to download? Can I come over to your house? Savor those seconds.



Dalton Delan

Winner of three Emmy Awards, Dalton Delan pens biweekly The Unspin Room, which began August 7, 2016 in The Berkshire Eagle; it has appeared in 50+ newspapers.